Telluride Real Estate News: How Smart Zoning Preserves Telluride As Boutique Destination

Telluride Real Estate News: How Smart Zoning Preserves Telluride As Boutique Destination

Telluride Real Estate News twins with Robert Stenhammer, an associate broker with Telluride Real Estate Corp./Christie’s International Real Estate.

With a BA in business, an MBA in hospitality and tourism, and over 20 years of experience in the fields, Robert’s expertise encompasses real estate, hotels, vacation rentals, resort management, community relations, government affairs, and destination marketing. In his past life working on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Robert wrote often on those subjects for local media. In addition to his  real estate position, he also works part-time for the Telluride Ski & Golf Resort, where his title is “Office of the CEO” and his focus is on government affairs and community relations, a role which comes down to helping make Telluride the #1 resort in the world.

In his weekly column, (narratives and video), “Telluride Real Estate News,” Robert leverages his extensive knowledge of market factors (global, national, and regional) and the Telluride lifestyle to bring readers fresh, informative – and insider – real estate news to use today.

This week, Robert talks about zoning in the Telluride region and how strict policies have preserved the boutique nature of our award-winning destination. For a quick recap, scroll down to watch Robert’s video.

Robert Stenhammer

Robert Stenhammer



You may know that the Telluride box canyon was formed by an ancient and gigantic volcanic caldera, then subsequently carved out by Ice Age glaciers.

You may know Telluride was founded in the 1870’s as a mining town and that it is a National Historic Landmark. And that the Town of Mountain Village is contemporary, modern and only 21-years-old and that the two towns are connected by a free gondola.

You may also know the Telluride Ski & Golf Resort  was named the #1 Resort in North America by Conde Nast three out of the last five years.

But did you know that our little slice of alpine heaven was once zoned for over 400,000 residents?

Here’s the story…

The last mine was shut down in Telluride in 1978. About the same time, Ron Allred came to town with a vision for the new economic engine – the Telluride Ski Resort. Since 1969, the resort had been operated only out of the Town of Telluride side of the mountain as a very small ski area, but drawing upon his vision and experience as a developer in Beaver Creek, Allred had much grander plans.

To support the seismic shift in the economy of the region from mining to tourism,  the Telluride Region Planning Advisory Committee or TREPAC was formed to complete a master plan that would cover the next 45 years.

TREPAC was comprised of 18 members: six representatives from San Miguel County; six from the Town of Telluride; and six at large individuals who represented the four major landowners in the area. Their work was intended to virtually eliminate motor vehicle transportation; create zoning for hotels; keep Telluride small; build an airport and infrastructure to support a resort tourism economy.

TREPAC’s vision called for five mountain villages, all connected by gondola, each with its own commercial core. These villages included Telluride, Mountain Village, the Valley Floor, Aldasaro and West Meadows. Subsequently TREPAC reduced the zoning from a whopping 400,000 to just 18,900 residents and guests. Outside  Telluride and Mountain Village in unincorporated San Miguel County, residential zoning dictated one single family home per 35 acres of land.

Of course, the idea of a European-style resort destination with its communities all connected by a gondola was laid to rest when the Valley Floor and West Meadows areas were permanently preserved as natural open spaces – further reducing the zoning in the area. Today, the population of the region is about 3,000 residents – although Telluride welcomes over 1 million guests per year to our mountain hamlet.

There is a moral to this story. Today many mountain resorts are struggling with the result of  an incredible amount of sprawl, congestion, and high density. Think of great resorts like Vail, Aspen and Park City that sprawl 50+ miles from their centers. Because of the zoning restrictions still in place, Telluride will always be a small boutique destination.

In other words, despite our limited zoning and density restrictions – or perhaps because of them – Telluride remains a very attractive value for real estate investment when compared to other luxury mountain destinations.

For a dense recap on zoning in the Telluride region, watch this video:

Contact me any time for additional information about the Telluride region market conditions and how you can join my family and me in living the Telluride dream.

More about Robert Stenhammer:

Daughters Sammy (18), Mackenna (16), Robert and Wife Heidi.

Daughters Sammy (18), Mackenna (16), Robert and Wife Heidi.

Originally from Minnesota, Robert has enjoyed a 20+-year career in luxury resort, real estate, hospitality, and tourism. He has been a licensed real estate broker since 2009.

Robert began his resort management career in the ski resorts of Colorado, where he directly oversaw the management of over 2,600 vacation rental properties, 40 homeowner associations, retail, food and beverage, real estate, hotels and resort operations during his stints with Vail Resorts and Intrawest.

He lived in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for seven years, serving on the Board of Directors for the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce & VCB. He chaired the Accommodation Tax Committee for the Town of Hilton Head Island, got his brokerage license and was a regular hospitality, tourism, and real estate columnist and contributor for the Island Packet newspaper and Hilton Head Monthly magazine.

In his former duties as executive vice-president for Telluride Ski & Golf Resort, Robert Stenhammer was responsible for hotel and vacation rental resort lodging, Mountain Village retail operations, golf course operations, the Telluride Conference Center, Telluride Concierge Luxury Transport and the exclusive Telluride Ski and Golf private members club.

Daughter Sammy (18), Robert, Daughter Mackenna (16) and wife Heidi.

Daughter Sammy (18), Robert, Daughter Mackenna (16) and wife Heidi.

In his new job for Telski, Office of the CEO (Bill Jensen), Robert is charged with helping to make Telluride the #1 resort in the world by working in government affairs and on strategic partnerships and new initiatives for the resort, including housing, access, and sustainable development for a better future.

As a broker, Robert  leverages his intimate knowledge of the market and executive-level communication skills and service experience to exceed his clients’ real estate objectives.

Off-hours, Robert takes advantage of the active Telluride lifestyle His home is in Mountain Village, where he lives with his wife Heidi and daughters Samantha (18) and Mackenna (16).

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